ABC News’ Huma Khan reports: Congress is under pressure to cut the rapidly rising costs of the federal government’s food stamps program at a time when a record number of Americans are relying on it.

The House Appropriations Committee today will review the fiscal year2012 appropriations bill for the Department of Agriculture that includes $71 billion for the agency’s “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.” That’s $2 billion less than what President Obama requested but a 9 percent increase from 2011, which, critics say, is too large given the sizeable budget deficit.

More than 44.5 million Americans received SNAP benefits in March, an 11 percent increase from one year ago and nearly 61 percent higher than the same time four years ago.

The Republicans’ 2012 budget plan proposes changing SNAP from an entitlement to a block-grant program that would be tailored for each individual state, much like their proposal for Medicaid. States would no longer receive open-ended subsidies and the aid would be contingent on work or job training. It would also limit funding for the program.

Continue reading →